Close to six weeks have passed since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, believing the war to be won in days. Ukrainian forces, provided with mass international donations, weapons shipments and volunteers, have not only halted Russian advances but pushed back against what is considered the second most powerful country on Earth.
In wake of the counter-offensive around the capital city of Kyiv, Ukrainian soldiers have discovered evidence of civilian massacres, as well as wide-scale looting and rape in the city of Bucha, 10 miles from Kyiv with a population of approx. 30,000 before the invasion.
The Guardian was the first news group to report the killings on April 3, when Ukrainian tanks arrived at the city, finding devastation along the roads and homes of the town.
“Reporters from Agence France-Presse saw at least 20 bodies, all in civilian clothing, strewn across a single street in Bucha, and the body of a missing Ukrainian photographer, Maksim Levin, was discovered in a nearby village,” the Guardian reported.
Russian soldiers have repeatedly been accused of war crimes throughout the invasion, notably the shelling of evacuee convoys from the besieged city of Mariupol, according to the Guardian. However, the initial 20 fatalities were only the beginning of the horrific actions.
“‘All these people were shot,’ Bucha’s mayor Anatoly Fedoruk told AFP, adding that 280 other bodies had been buried in mass graves in the town. ‘These are the consequences of Russian occupation,’” the Guardian said.
The Sun spoke with Olekseii Reznikov, the Ukrainian Minister of Defense, about the killings in a video uploaded to Youtube. Reznikov arrived in Bucha on April 3, as the first major Ukrainian official to visit Bucha and the survivors in the town.
“This is not a special operation, these are not police actions, these are ordinary racists who committed crimes against civilians. They raped, killed, shot them in the back of the head. The whole world needs to know about this,” Reznikov said.
Survivors have also reported looting by Russian forces in Bucha, including jewelry, electronics, kitchen appliances, clothing and motorcycles, including those of murdered civilians.
Russian officials have denied any responsibility for the action, claiming that the mass graves and destroyed buildings were faked to justify Ukrainian provocations. An article from CBS quotes the Russian Foreign Minister’s explanation, citing supposed evidence of forgery in the videos taken of the victims.
“Maxar Technologies provided nine images taken of Bucha on March 18, 19 and 31 to Reuters. At least four of the images appear to show bodies on one of the town’s roads, Yablonska Street. The city was occupied by Russian forces until about March 30,” Reuters said in an article refuting the Minister.
According to Forbes magazine, President Joe Biden is seeking to place higher sanctions on Russia and encouraged other members of NATO to do the same. Biden even urged the investigation into Bucha to continue so it could be used as evidence in a trial on Russian war crimes in the invasion.
“This guy is brutal, and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous and everyone’s seen it,” Biden said to reporters, according to Forbes.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Bucha on April 4, calling the murders an act of Russian genocide against Ukrainians and requested further military support from NATO, according to a video from CNN.
As more cities are liberated by Ukraine due to the Russian withdrawal from the north of the country, many, including the BBC, Pope Francis and Zelensky himself fear that the scenes in Bucha will become commonplace — brutalized survivors among the countless dead victims of what the Russian government calls a “Denazification campaign.”